High school honors distinguished graduates

Brendyn Alexander ’02 (left) and David D. Palmer ’88 (right), 2015 inductees into the Groton High School Distinguished Graduate Hall of Fame, as they proudly display the plaques they received.
Brendyn Alexander ’02 (left) and David D. Palmer ’88 (right), 2015 inductees into the Groton High School Distinguished Graduate Hall of Fame, as they proudly display the plaques they received.
Photo by Linda Competillo

Groton High School Class of 2017 alumna, Hope Twitchell, has been chosen to study abroad at Oxford University in England for the fall semester of 2019.

Twitchell, who was the valedictorian for her class at GHS, has been studying psychology at Southeastern University in Florida for the past two years and is now entering her junior year there.

The program she will be studying through is Scholarship and Christianity In Oxford (SCIO), which was developed to promote intellectual growth as well as spiritual growth in a world that claims one must choose one or the other.

To qualify for SCIO, a student is required to have at least a 3.7 GPA, respond to multiple essay questions as part of the application process to determine the level of the student’s writing abilities and have four recommendation letters submitted.

As a student in this program, Twitchell is registered as a visiting student at Oxford and a member of Wycliffe Hall. The semester is labeled as the “scholar semester,” as it entails a 17-credit course load that is largely based on the tutorial system - an independent form of education that requires intense research on the part of the student and a write-up between 3,000 to 4,000 words to be presented to a professor each week.

While there, Twitchell will be living in a house with about 40 other students who are also from the United States. Each student will embark on their own research endeavors but will be able to support each other along the way.

Twitchell’s concentration will be psychology with tutorials focusing on cognition, language and development.

“I have dreamed about studying abroad since my mom told me about her experiences abroad as a college student,” she said. “Thus, I am very much looking forward to the challenges and adventures to come!”

Watrous also distinguished graduate

In the Sept. 4 edition of this column, Gary Watrous was featured in commemoration of his 45 years of employment at the First National Bank of Groton, but I ran out of space to mention that he was also an inductee to Groton High School’s Distinguished Graduate Hall of Fame in 2013.

I will also take this opportunity to clarify that Watrous lives on Park Street, not on Williams. Many of the accomplishments cited in last week’s column were also part of Watrous’ credentials for being nominated and awarded the induction into the Hall of Fame, along with numerous other service awards such as Distinguished member of the 500th Infantry Regiment, Combat Infantryman’s Badge, National Defense Service Medal, Air Medal, Purple Heart and the Bronze Star with V Device.

Located in the main lobby of the high school at 400 Peru Rd., the Hall of Fame pays tribute to the accomplishments of one or two graduates each year. The recipients of this award are invited to attend the annual academic honors banquet to receive their award and serve as the keynote speaker(s) and are subsequently commemorated with a permanent plaque outlining their achievements.

This award was created in 2010 by Groton’s chapter of the National Honor Society, under the headship of Cathy Spallone, who was the advisor at that time, as a way to promote academic achievement and inspire current students by honoring its own graduates who have made valuable contributions to their professional field or community.

The very first inductee to the Hall of Fame in 2010 was Steve Gobel ’66, president and chief executive officer of the First National Bank of Groton, who has since been joined by a number of notable alumni.

In 2011, Jane Haladay Goldman ’92, for her work with sexual assault and child sexual abuse victims, and Ryan P. Slocum ’03, Tompkins County sheriff’s deputy who won several awards for his fight against DWI.

Grant H. Bonavia ’89, commander in the United States navy and radiologist, and Katheryn Okonsky ’04, captain in the United States Army who served in Afghanistan and was awarded the Army Achievement Medal three times for service and performance, were both inducted in 2012.

Along with Gary Watrous ‘67 in 2013, Russell M. LaFrance ‘98 was also inducted. LaFrance is an orthopedic surgeon who has a very impressive resume.

In 2014, inductees were Benjamin Ballard ’91, environmentalist and scientist, who was recognized for his dedication to the Groton community and the field of science, and Gregg McCrary ‘63, retired special agent with the FBI, who was one of the original profilers at the FBI Academy.

Brendyn Alexander ’02 and David D. Palmer ’88 were the 2015 inductees, followed by Jeffrey Corcoran ’91 and Richard Hastings ’51 (awarded posthumously) in 2016.

In 2017, Chad Higgins ’96 was the only inductee, followed by Darryl S. Volpicelli ’94 and Sam Mackenzie ’01 in 2018 and 2019, respectively. The complete synopsis of all these awardees can be viewed easily in the high school if you’d like to read more.

Nominations are currently being sought for the 2020 inductees, which will mark the 20th anniversary of the award.

Nomination forms can be found on the school’s website, grotoncs.org. To be considered for this year’s induction in May, nominations are due by Feb. 1, 2020, though applications are accepted at any time during the year. The current members of the NHS will review nominations and make their final selection(s) by a majority vote. All applications are considered and are weighed by the contributions.

Groton on the Inside appears weekly. Submit news ideas to Linda Competillo, lmc10@cornell.edu or 607-227-4922.

In brief:

Digital training for older adults

All are welcome to join Foodnet Meals on Wheels as it partners with the Tompkins County Public Library to offer the program, “Digital Training for Older Adults” at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 18, at Center Village Court, 200 W. South St.

Join librarians from the library to learn how to borrow eBooks and eAudiobooks with Overdrive. Overdrive books can be borrowed anytime, even if the library is closed!

Patrons are encouraged to bring personal electronic devices, a TCPL or Finger Lakes Library System card, photo ID if you need to sign up for a card, and usernames and passwords that may be associated with your electronic devices. This workshop is open to the public and offered at no cost.

Join Foodnet for a nutritious lunch following this workshop. Reservations are required at least one day in advance by calling (607) 266-9553. Lunch is available to all individuals who are 60 and older for a voluntary financial contribution. Those under 60 may attend for a cost of $8 per meal.

If you have any questions prior to the workshop, you are encouraged to contact Digital Lab Librarian Tom Fredette at (607) 272-4557 ext. 271, or tfredette@tcpl.org.

Free at Groton library

September is library card sign-up month at the Groton Public Library. Any new cardholders who sign up for a library card during the month will receive candy and a free book. Current cardholders who bring in a friend to sign up will also receive a free book.

The monthly community meal, which is completely free and open to the public, will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 17. Come and learn about the 2020 census and the job opportunity to assist with the process.

Certified instructor, Aniiyah Klock, will lead an adult wellness class on stomach and spleen care, along with self-care techniques at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 18.

The Health Insurance Information, Counseling and Assistance Program will be on site at the library to give a free presentation about Medicare at 11 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 19.

The monthly Library Book Club meeting is at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19. They will be discussing the book “Go Set a Watchman” by Harper Lee. All are invited to stop in and join in the discussion.


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